Core Technologies

Reforming (Compact Reformer)

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JM Davy’s reforming technologies transform natural gas into synthesis gas (syngas, predominantly CO, CO2 and H2). Syngas is a feedstock for the Davy gas-to-liquids (GTL) and methanol processes.

Developed in collaboration with BP, the compact reformer combines three process steps – combustion, heat recovery and reaction – into a simple tubular module which does not require purified oxygen. This reduces the reformer’s size and weight, making it particularly useful for off-shore or remote applications.

We offer different reforming technologies to fit various operating conditions. In addition to the compact reformer, we also offer auto-thermal, gas-heated and steam methane reforming options. It is also possible to combine Davy reformers, depending on process requirements.

Compact Reformer Flowsheet

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compact1 compact2 compact3 compact4
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Process Description

Developed in collaboration with BP, the compact reformer operates using similar chemical reactions to a steam methane reformer (SMR). However, unlike the SMR, the compact reformer is based upon a compact mechanical design, employing counter-current, largely convective heat exchange to intensify the reforming process.

As a result, the compact reformer can achieve a similar output to an SMR with a greatly reduced footprint.

A refractory-lined vessel houses vertical, closely-packed reaction tubes containing reforming catalyst. These tubes are interspersed with downward-firing fuel tubes on the shell-side, which allow the air/fuel combustion to provide the heat source for the reforming reaction. The compact reformer contains three distinct zones:

Lower feed pre-heat zone

Natural gas and steam enter the reformer’s base and proceed up the reaction tubes. The reactants are pre-heated by counter-current cooling of the exhaust flue gas.

Middle combustion zone

Catalytic reforming of methane and steam proceeds in the reaction tubes, whilst fuel gas combustion takes place on the shell side. The hot combustion gas passes through the closely-spaced tubes at sufficient velocity for the heat transfer to be predominantly convective.

The spacing between the tubes limits the hot gas volume and therefore the potential for radiative heat transfer.

This process may be summarised as follows:

Compact ref small equation1

The steam, which has been added to the natural gas feed upstream, is present in excess so as to drive the reforming reaction equilibria to a lower concentration of unconverted methane.

Top air/fuel preheat zone

The gas exiting the top of the reformer includes syngas (CO, CO2 and H2), unreacted methane and water in the form of steam.

The product stream cools by counter current pre-heating of the incoming fuel and air, and then collects in a header and passes out of the device.

+Process option: compact reformer modules

It is possible to increase plant capacity by using the compact reformer in modules, with a common waste heat recovery duct.

The JM Davy Advantage

The compact reformer offers many advantages, including the following:

+Design advantages:

  • The compact reformer intensifies the steam reforming process, with its closely-packed tubes and higher flux of combustion gases. This results in a 75% saving in footprint and weight compared to a conventional steam reformer.
  • The compact nature of its design also means the reformer is readily transported by road or rail, making it ideal for use in remote or offshore locations.
  • The unit is prefabricated and modular, requiring less site construction than a conventional reformer.

+Direct syngas heat recovery for improved thermal efficiency:

  • The intrinsic heat recovery in the design results in a much lower process outlet temperature than in a conventional steam methane reformer, delivering an overall increase in reforming process efficiency.

+Feed pre-heating by flue gas:

  • The compact reformer utilises its flue gases to pre-heat its process feed.
  • This significantly lowers the flue gas outlet temperature, reducing the size of the flue gas waste heat recovery system.
Related Processes & Core Technologies

JM Davy’s compact reformer can be used as part of our gas-to-liquids (GTL) process. Explore
our GTL process here:

JM Davy also offers technologies for auto-thermal reforming, gas-heated reforming and steam methane reforming. Learn more here:

Related Processes

JM Davy’s compact reformer can be used as part of our gas-to-liquids (GTL) process. Explore
our GTL process here:

Core Technologies

JM Davy also offers technologies for auto-thermal reforming, gas-heated reforming and steam methane reforming. Learn more here: